U.S. Solar Power Employs More People Than Oil and Gas

With a new global economy created a massive shift in national and local economies around the world, there has been a great deal of concern as certain influences, such as global warming and other environmental issues has hit some industries quite hard. In fact, the gas, oil and coal industries, industries considered to be dirty energy creators, have taken major hits, especially in the U.S. As the push for cleaner energy that is sustainable over a longer period of time, without having a negative impact on the environment, more and more major companies in the oil, gas and coal industries have been forced to make major cutbacks.

What has turned out to be somewhat of a revelation to many is the fact that it seems that the solar power industry in the U.S. employs more people than all of the other industries combined. According to a report released in January of 2017, solar energy employed 43 percent of the electric energy generation sector’s workforce last year, while during the same time, fossil fuels employed only 22 percent of the same population.

On the surface, this may seem like a simple fact of moderate impact; however, the truth is that it could have a far-reaching impact on a new presidential administration that has been building a head of steam since the inauguration less than a week ago. Through a barrage of directives that have been issued by President Trump through the signing of both, executive orders and executive memorandums, Trump has made it immensely clear that he is taking one of the most direct paths to implementing policies in modern history. While he has quite a way to go to match the executive directive issued by the previous president, Barack Obama, he is well on his way.

What makes this new report to relevant to the push of the Trump administration is the fact that the President has consistently insisted that green energy isn’t good for the economy. However, the information presented in this report suggests that cutting green energy efforts could have a tremendously negative impact on the U.S. economy — something that is completely antithetical to push of the current administration.

According to this report, issued by the U.S. Department of Energy, clearly reveals that solar energy accounts for the largest proportion of employment in the Electric Power Generation sector of energy, and this includes the so-called dirty industries, such as coal, oil and gas. If this report is accurate, and there is no reason to believe that it isn’t, this will just one more point in which the President has made assertions that are not founded upon empirical and pragmatic evidence. What should also be noted here is that the coal industry, which has remained strong in the past, has consistently declined over the past decade, while wind energy has assumed the third spot in job production in the Electric Power Generation sector.

During the time period between 2015-2016, solar energy employed 374,000 people, which constitutes 43 percent of this sectors total workforce. During the same time period, traditional fossil fuels combined to employ only 187,117, which only accounts for 22 percent of the sector’s workforce.

One of the primary factors associated with the proportionality in which the solar power sub-sector dominates employment is the current construction that is directly related to the build out of the infrastructure that will provide the capacity for solar energy moving forward. What must be noted here is that at the same time that employment and growth is expanding the solar power sub-sector, the coal sub-sector has declined by as much as 53 percent over the last decade — observing a period between the beginning of 2006 and September 2016. During the same time frame, natural gas experienced an increase of 33 percent and solar energy bolstered an increase of 5,000 percent. With these types of numbers, it becomes increasingly difficult to reconcile the position of the current administration with the current numbers. It would seem that a spurning of green energy, at this point, would have significant negative implications — not only in the area of economics, but also in the impact it is likely to have on the global ecosystem.

When taking a more precise look at the solar energy impact, the numbers are quite substantial. In just the last year alone, the growth in the solar power sub-sector reached 25 percent — adding in excess of 73,000 jobs to the economy. Wind energy experienced an even larger increase of 32 percent. When examining the more comprehensive data presented in this report, it is revealed that the overall number in energy efficiency increased by more than 133,000, reaching a total of 2.2 million within the last year.

To elucidate the impact that green energy has had on the national economy to a great degree, there are 6.4 million Americans currently employed in the energy industry, and an additional $300,000 jobs were added during 2016 — culminating in the representation of 14 percent of the total job market in the U.S.

The DOE report also iterated that this shift is a product of the fact that the electric power generation mix changing in rapid form — driven by the fact that coal-fired power plants are being replaced by natural gas. Additionally, the rapid increase in low carbon energy sources has also contributed to the shift in economic influences among these power subsectors.

This aforementioned shifts in the methods of electric power generation are mirrored in the creation of jobs in the corresponding sectors. So, as the amount of electric power generation has declined in the fossil fuel sub-sector, employment in that sub-sector has declined in direct correspondence. The employment profile in this industry is in direct alignment with the shift in electric power generation by sub-sector.

There are currently no influences that would be considered indicative of a reversal in the current trend, which presents a strong challenge to the assertion of the current administration that green energy is hurting the economy. What seems in order here is that power companies are going to continue to be forced to make the adjustments to the demands of a predominant number of the world’s population to reduce the production of dirty energy.

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